"God bless Hitchcock. He never won an Oscar and never gave us a second of boredom," Alex de la Iglesia has said. No one would ever accuse the Spanish director of boring an audience. In his latest film, El Crimen Ferpecto (The Perfect Crime), he hits again on a striking mix of violence and comedy. Jonathan Marlow asks him where all those outrageous ideas come from.
How did Pedro Almodóvar and his brother come to produce your first feature film?
Well, the first thing I made in movies was a short film called Killer Mirindas [Mirindas asesinas].
This was in 1991?
1991, yes. It was in black-and-white and I made it in Bilbao, in my home, with my friends who work in the theater. With this short film I went to Almodóvar's office and said, "Can you watch this thing?" Almodóvar loved the short film and said, "Would you like to make a long feature film?" I said, "Yes, of course," and we began to work on the film Mutant Action.
Acción mutante is essentially a superhero movie for misfits. It's what you might expect would happen if something like the X-men were to really form. They would not get along.
It's a group of terrorists. A bunch of handicapped terrorists who try to fight against the beautiful people. That's the plot. It's very badly shot and very badly done, but very funny. I was very naïve when I made this movie. I put strange things in that movie. I made things in that movie that I can't make now. I'm scared of those things now but, in the moment that I made this film, I felt totally free to make whatever I wanted.
Acción mutante (Mutant Action)
It seemingly received a favorable reaction from audiences wherever it played. At least I remember hearing about it for years before I was finally able to see it. As far as debut films go, it was very successful.
Well, I don't know if it was very successful, but...
Perhaps not financially, but it established your reputation.
The movie definitely had a big reaction in the world.
How much of your Jesuit education informed Day of the Beast? Obviously, your former school would not be happy with the film that resulted.
I don't know what they'd think about the movie, but, yes, I came up with this story when I was studying philosophy at Loyola University. I remembered one priest there who always thought about Plotino [known to us as Plotinus]. He was an expert in Plotino. Plotino is not a very good philosopher. He's a bad philosopher. A stupid philosopher after Plato and after Aristotle and I thought, "How is it possible that this man is, all his life, dedicated to think in a not very important philosopher, not a very smart philosopher?" Suddenly, he didn't know anything about life, about TV, about anything. He was totally ignorant. What happens if you take this man and put him on the street? That's the essence of Day of the Beast. A crazy priest tries to prevent the apocalypse because he reads a lot and discovers that it's revealed in a cryptogram.
Of all the films that have been made about the coming of the Antichrist, no other film has decided that the way to locate the "denier of the Father and the Son" is to break all of the commandments! What was the inspiration of this idea?
I think that it's the best plot I've made, together with [co-writer] Jorge [Guerricaechevarría]. The idea, you know, to have some innocent guy making some wild things is funny because he is small and old and very respectful. He has only one friend and he is a fucking junkie, this fat guy who's in love with metal music. I don't know how I was able to make this movie. It was very difficult to make because everyone said no to everything. Almodóvar refused because he is very superstitious and said, "I don't want to make a movie about the devil." Okay, but do you think it's bad? I don't know if Almodóvar liked the movie at the beginning. Maybe it was only an excuse.
It has a very shocking opening sequence. I think it really sets everything in motion with the collapse of the cross.
I love that scene. You know, I love Satanist things. I love demons and The Exorcist and this kind of stuff. I love those movies. I am always scared to make another movie about the demons, about hell, because the people might compare it with Day of the Beast. I need fifteen years to say, "Okay, let's do another one." My next movie is about demons. The only thing I hate is the people who say "Hey, you're repeating the same idea."
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